When I first thought I might publish some of my work, I would dream about getting a contract and royalties, and being able to just write for the rest of my life. It’s a good thing I didn’t pin my hopes on that, because the reality of most writer’s lives is very different.
Few writers make a living from book sales alone. The writers I know either have ‘day’ jobs, full or part-time, or they have a business such as editing, ghost-writing, or copy writing, to help pay the bills. It’s hard work, and sometimes they have to branch out further and do other things to make ends meet. It would be nice to only have to write the next best-seller and let the money roll in, but it generally doesn’t work that way. Failure, too, is common. The publishing company might reject your manuscript, or your book may not sell as well as you hoped. JK Rowling is well known for posting her rejection letters online in an effort to show her followers that rejection, or failure, is not the end, and it happens to everyone.
I’m lucky. After a brief dabble with submitting to a publishing company—and I mean brief—I decided self-publishing was the way to go and I’ve never regretted my choice. I don’t expect to make loads of money from my writing—I’m more interested in enjoying the process of writing stories. So I stick to my (nicely paying) day job and have fun. It doesn’t mean I don’t still have failures. I do. It’s easier to learn from them and move on if you’re not counting on the income.
Would I accept an offer from a publishing company if they made one? Honestly, probably not. At least not without having a good literary lawyer look at the contract. I’ve read enough about horror contracts to put me off.
I have nothing but respect for my fellow writers who write (edit, mentor, etc) full time. I’d respect anyone who runs their own small business—in fact I’m in awe of them. The simple truth is I don’t have the courage or drive to follow them. Not without a lot of fall-back money sitting in the bank.
Now, if I win Tattslotto…, but first I need to buy a ticket!
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